...being the account of a fine seasonal game I GMed for VanLoon and his band of miscreants. According to VanLoon, "Baron Wenceslas' lands are run down and he is rather hard up, so unfortunately he has to make do with hiring a militia of a dubious, low quality nature. He doesn't like it, but needs must. In his last game, he borrowed a large amount of money from a neighbouring dwarf King in order to reclaim some of his lost lands from an evil necromancer, but it all went disastrously wrong!". Here he is patrolling his borderlands...
...when a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.
"Yonder peasant, who is he?"
"Hold on a sec, I'll just go find out", says Wenceslas' second in command, Rudi Tannenbaum. "You there, peasant, reveal yourself!"
The peasant, startled by the arrival of these armed men, runs sobbing to his hovel.
Rudi Tannenbaum is just about to return to the Baron to report when he is ambushed by a creature with the head of an owl and the body of a bear. The owlbear hoots in triumph as he slaughters the scout.
Baron Wenceslas, alarmed by the blood-curdling screams of his second in command, order his band of ruffians to enter the forest and kill the creature. They demur. "Send the halbardiers in, you pay them a lot more than you pay us." But the halbardiers also seem unwilling to get stuck in. "Tell you what, why don't you, er, lead the way, and then we'll, er, mark your footsteps well and tread in them boldly."
And so Baron Wenceslas finds himself forced to charge into the woods, surprising himself by overcoming the owlbear singlehandedly. He is just in the process of delivering a stern lecture to his hired men on their lack of virtues, when a band of knights come into view.
"You there. We are the bodyguard of Lord Vogue. You are trespassers on his land. Identify yourself."
"Your land? I think you'll find this is my land, sir," replies Baron Wenceslas, a tone of uncertainty in his voice. "Indeed, I have only just this second defended it from a marauding owl-bear."
"An owlbear?, an owlbear?" roars Lord Vogue. "Haw haw! Owlbears indeed. I've never heard anything so ridiculous in all my life. Next you'll be telling me about ape-dogs or dog-apes! Haw haw!" The knights accompanying Lord Vogue roar with laughter and slap their armoured thighs. "Now, step aside. This is my land, and we are here to arrest a wanted criminal for crimes against humanity."
"You can't mean the peasant gathering winter fuel in the woods, surely?"
"Peasant! Peasant indeed. He is a wanted criminal. You might want to ask him why his neighbour's house is deserted. Now step aside, before we are forced to arrest you too."
Baron Wenceslas and his men refuse to give way. Instead, Wenceslas goes to investigate at the poor man's hovel while tensions rise between his men and Lord Vogue's men. Finally, Vogue gives his men the orders to charge Wenceslas' halbardiers. This does not end well for them, and after a hard-fought combat, the two surviving knights suddenly remember that discretion is the better part of valour.
But while the halberdiers persue the knights, Lord Vogue and his manservant make an example of the ruffians in Wenceslas' pay, hacking each and every one of them down.
Who was this peasant who required so many armed men to apprehend him? Wenceslas banged on the door, demanding answers.
"Leave me be!" shrieked the peasant, "I've done nothing wrong! I meant no harm, they just ran away. Everyone just runs away. Why won't they leave me be?"
But why had the neighbours left so suddenly? Wenceslas dragged the peasant to their house while he investigated. "They all just ran away. But I meant them no harm!" Inspecting the house Wenceslas can see no sign of bloodshed or of anything other than evidence a family having packed up and left home. He finds himself increasingly moved by the peasants sobs and pleas.
Leaving the house, he finds Sir Shortington sneaking and waiting to arrest the peasant. "This man is now under my protection!" roars Wenceslas, cutting the dwarf down to an even shorter size than he was before.
Lord Vogue issued an ultimatum. "I'll give you one last chance. Hand him over. You have no idea what a... monster... he is."
"Never!" roared Wenceslas, charging into battle.
The smell of blood was too much for the peasant. His back arched. He threw his head back, his mouth opened wide, first in a scream, and then in a howl. And then all was the flash of tooth and claw.
Wenceslas fell, but this only enraged the beast of a man more, howling for his pack to come to his aid from the woods. And so the heavily armoured Lord Vogue and his manservant found themselves merely cans of dogfood...
Wenceslas' men stayed back, unsure what they had just witnessed. But as they retreated to the tavern to steady their nerve, leaving their master for dead, little did they know that the Baron's wounded body was being carried back to the hovel of the peasant werewolf; his wounds tended, fed and warmed by the fire until he regained his strength.
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.
Even if they do turn out to be werewolves.